In another indication that the market for technology transactions is gathering steam, Cisco announced last month its intention to buy Splunk for $28 billion. The networking company is spending a nontrivial fraction of its market capitalization on the transaction, and while Splunk shareholders are cheering the deal and the premium it may bring to their own holdings, Cisco’s shareholders appear to be less enthused, if the stock price is any indication.
In strategic terms, the deal is being hailed as a big win for both teams, bringing together AI and data management capabilities, especially as applied to cybersecurity of Splunk with Cisco’s network data. Together they have the potential to be a powerful combination, but bringing together two large companies like this is no small task, and the ability to merge two cultures will go a long way in measuring the success of the deal.
In financial terms, it’s interesting. While the recent Klaviyo IPO gave us a look at how the market values high-growth software companies as they go public, the Cisco-Splunk deal instead shows us the potential value of slower-growing software entities. Thus the transaction is slightly less meaningful for startups than this week’s public offerings, but still useful given the sheer dearth of liquidity events that we have seen lately.
Now, as the announcement hype has faded and as reality sets in, it looks as though Cisco investors still aren’t necessarily thrilled about the deal. Maybe the big price tag is scaring them, but they haven’t answered enthusiastically, that’s for sure. The question is: Why?
Can they come together without Cisco killing it?
One thing Cisco has going for it, according to Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, is a track record of absorbing acquired companies. “The culture issue is hard, but Cisco has been built on M&A. That’s what they do, so this is a core competency for them,” Wang told TechCrunch+.
Jevin Jensen, an analyst at IDC who watches companies like Splunk, says he thought the combo made sense last year when rumors of an acquisition first surfaced — and he still does.